Academy Rolling Out Online Voting

Online voting for the Academy Awards is rolling out this season. Leaving no geriatric voters behind, the Academy is still making paper ballots available. Voters had a December 14th deadline to register for either online or paper voting. Because many voters didn’t choose either option, the Academy will still send paper ballots out to 5,856 members, a little less than half its members.

The voting deadline for nominations is January 3rd, which is two weeks earlier than normal, making online voting all the more crucial. The Academy’s COO, Ric Robertson tells The Wrap, “the voting period for nominations is essentially the holiday season, [so] whether you’re vacationing in Hawaii or working in Mexico, it’s now much easier to vote—and you don’t have to worry about being out of town while your ballot is sitting in your mailbox back in West LA.”

This solves a personal problem of mine: Vacationing in Hawaii while my mailbox sits at home in West LA, woefully over-stuffed with Oscar ballots.

Digital Downloads On The Up Down Under

Australians are adopting digital formats even faster than the US. Digital revenues in Australia totaled more than $63 million in the first seven months of 2012, which is a 60% jump since 2011. Digital revenue for 2012 is expected to clock in at more than $120 million, with 24 million individual transactions.

And people are downloading content from major US distributors, along with independent Australian companies. More meaningful than the potential $120 million in digital revenue is the 60% increase from 2012. With increasing access to broadband internet connection worldwide, the potential growth for legal downloads over the next few years is exciting.

Australia has been developing its own National Broadband Network, working to create an open-access data platform that will provide faster, reliable internet service for less than $30 a month. The Australian government has invested $27.5 billion in the $35.9 billion project. It is estimated to reach nearly all Australians by 2021—or in other terms, two rebooted Spiderman franchises from now.

More Good News For Digital Downloads

Digital downloads are finally pulling up the slack for a several years decline in home entertainment revenues. While physical is still on the decline, electronic rentals and purchases are going up.

Physical purchases and rentals are expected to earn $13.43 billion in 2012, down from $14.39 billion in 2011. Digital downloads account for only $5.3 billion, or 28% of the market, but they’re up—way up. Digital download revenue has increased a whopping 50%, more than making up for the difference.

According to The Wrap, “Executives say that rather than one silver bullet, the industry is benefiting from the incremental increases from several different sectors across an ever-expanding home-entertainment landscape.” David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment says, “The business has gotten more complex, more fragmented to the point where a number of new distribution channels are proliferating.”

Though most of the increases we’re seeing in home entertainment are coming from digital, Blu-ray sales have been experiencing growth since its inception. Still, Blue-Ray is likely to be replaced by digital formats, such as UltraViolet, the cloud based format that allows consumers to watch their favorite movies on any device. It’s clear that digital downloads will be the predominant vehicle for home entertainment. What remains to be seen is when and how studios will make 100% of their libraries available to digital consumers.